The Pirates will retain Clint Hurdle as their manager next season and have rewarded him with a four-year extension that will keep him around through 2021. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the news on Monday afternoon.
Questions had persisted all season long about whether the Pirates would pick up the 60-year-old manager’s option for 2018. But instead of simply picking up the option, Pittsburgh chose to work out more of a long-term solution with the manager who has helped to reinvigorate the franchise since taking over in 2011.
Hurdle took over just as Andrew McCutchen began his prime years, so it would be foolish to act as if he was the primary cause of the Pirates ending a 20-year playoff drought in 2013. But under his leadership, Pittsburgh has consistently remained competitive in the NL Central, reaching the postseason for three straight seasons from 2013-15 and winning at least 78 games in every season from 2012-16.
Pittsburgh has struggled this season as Jung-Ho Kang has missed the entire year due to off-the-field issues, Jameson Taillon has battled cancer, Gregory Polanco has missed extended time due to injuries, and Starling Marte has missed most of the year due to a PED suspension. Even with all those setbacks, the Pirates still looked threatening in the NL Central until mid-August, when they lost 10 of 13 as the first-place Cubs broke away from the pack.
Hurdle, who is also the winningest manager in Rockies franchise history and led Colorado to its only World Series appearance in 2007, likely would have been one of the top managers on the market this offseason if his option had been declined.